Empowering female engineering students: A field trip to Rand Water
17 October 2023
In a remarkable initiative that embodies the spirit of empowerment, a group of forty-five (45) female engineering students from the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) embarked on an enlightening journey to Rand Water in Vereeniging on 12October 2023.
Organized by the Women in Engineering VUT Circle, this field trip was designed not only to foster an understanding of water treatment processes but also to underscore the crucial role that women play in the engineering industry. Additionally, its other primary goal was to educate students about the significance of water treatment and to illustrate how women are indispensable in the engineering sector. The experience sought to ignite motivation and enthusiasm among the students for their engineering courses.
The trip was a testament to the commitment of Women in Engineering VUT Circle, a student-led organization that promotes and supports female engineers.
The group represented various engineering departments across different years of study. This diversity was intentional, as it facilitated peer networking and demonstrated that engineering is not a solitary endeavour and that here is interconnectedness among the varying disciplines. Moreso, the journey was about collaboration and showcasing the collective strength of female engineers.
Accompanying the students were members of the WomEng executive committee, including Simphiwe Zwane (chairperson), Mabontle Letsela (program coordinator), Precious Mnguni (deputy treasurer), Lindiwe Nhlabathi (treasurer general), and Bulanga Djemima (media and communication officer). Although Khanyile Kutyunga, the secretary general, couldn’t attend the trip, her efforts in ensuring that female students from various engineering departments participated, were highly commendable.
The students’ learning experience reached its pinnacle when they visited the Rand Water purification plant. Rand Water, the largest bulk water utility in South Africa, played a pivotal role in organizing an educational and interactive session for the students. They were treated to a hands-on experiment that allowed them to witness firsthand the intricacies of water treatment. Divided into five groups, each was given the task of purifying a sample of dirty water sourced from the Vaal River. This engaging exercise underscored the complex but vital process of water purification, leaving the students with a profound appreciation for the importance of clean water in our society.
One of the most significant takeaways from this outing was the students’ realization of their ability to make a difference in the engineering world, particularly in areas like water treatment. The experience shattered any preconceived notion that engineering is a male-dominated field and emphasized that diversity and inclusivity are fundamental for innovation and progress.
This educational journey would not have been possible without the support of the Student Life and Support Department at VUT. which played an essential role in making this field trip a reality.
In conclusion, the field trip to Rand Water was a transformative experience for the female engineering students of VUT It not only expanded their knowledge of water treatment but also kindled a sense of pride and motivation in their chosen engineering fields. The trip served as a powerful reminder that women in engineering are essential, their contributions invaluable, and their potential limitless. This empowering adventure was a testament to the progress being made toward gender diversity and equality in the engineering world, and it’s a step in the right direction for a brighter, more inclusive future in STEM fields.